- Paperback: 328 pages
- Publisher: Kessinger Publishing, LLC (March 5, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0766184900
- ISBN-13: 978-0766184909
- Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 56 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,712,123 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Sketch Book
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The Sketch Book's best works are actually not the two famous ones in my opinion; rather, I am much more moved by Washington Irving's many musings concerning things like history and books. The man is the quintessential book lover, and waxes philosophically every once in a while in a way that makes me feel I am connecting with a familiar soul from long ago. The most emotionally-gripping story is about a wife who stands by her husband even in the greatest times of hardship.
However, many of the stories overstay their welcome and are hard to trudge through, specifically Irving's travels through various English locales which read as an aimless travel log with little value as literature.
Is it worth it to buy the Sketch Book and read through it cover to cover? I think so. Perhaps you'll love those travel logs I condemn.
Irving's mantra with this work is a set of observations, indeed "sketches" of his many travels and musings while roaming through England and his home in upstate New York along the Hudson River. The eternal figures of Rip Van Winkle and Ichabod Crane are evoked in this tome and set a literary standard that others aspire to, but one that Irving effortlessly achieves time and again. Not only does this volume frame these two classics, "The Sketch Book" also contains other literary giants such as "The Angler", "John Bull", "Philip of Pokanoket", "The Specter Bridegroom", "The Mutability of Literature" and "The Art of Bookmaking" wherein the essence of Irving's literary style is neatly conveyed in the following:
"Being now in possesion of the secert, I sat down in a corner and watched the process of this book manufactory. I noticed one lean, bilious-looking wight, who sought none but the worst worm-eaten volumes, printed in black letter. He was evidentley constructing some work of profound erudition that would be purchased by every man who wished to be thought learned, placed upon a conspicuous shelf of his library, or laid upon his table, but never read. I observed him, now and then, draw a large fragment of biscuit out of his his pocket and gnaw; whether it was his dinner, or whether he was endeavoring to keep off that exhaustion of the stomach produced by much pondering over dry works, I leave to harder students than myself to determine."
With a style that has emitted diverse emotions (Lord Byron "unashamedly wept" over the melancholy pieces "The Broken Heart", "The Widow and her Son" and "The Rural Funerals") and having enjoyed over a century and a half of eminent popularity, Washington Irving's "aim in life is to escape 'from the commonplace realities of the present' and to lose himself 'among the shadowy grandeurs of the past' ". Readers tuned in to this philosophy continue to enjoy Irving's literary prose (by buying and re-reading his works), and also, by buying and reading, secure his reputation as a master in American Literature. When one has digested "The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon" and "Diedrich Knickerboker's History of New York", one has embraced the essential works of Washington Irving and most would then assuredly join me in saying that he rates eminately in American Literary standing.
While reading "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", I recalled the Disney animation and seeing the description that Irving gave in the story,I was taken back to my youth. What a delightful story! If you didn't read any other story in this book, it would be worth the price. It's also a really scary story aside from the humor in it.
You will be absolutely satisfied with this book even if this is the only story that you read.
The price of course was free, so there's no problem there and I am sure that you will enjoy it all.